Dr. Laura Parajón of AMOS Health and Hope mentors doulas in Nicaragua (Photo: ABC-IM)
God has been using health professionals to advance the mission of Christ through American Baptist International Ministries (IM) since 1821 when Dr. Jonathan Price arrived in Burma.
Today, long- and short-term missionaries continue to express the gospel in ministries of health and wellness all around the world.
From Haiti to Bolivia and Liberia to India, health professionals serve alongside local colleagues to bring healing and hope in the name of Christ.
God has blessed IM with many outstanding health professionals over the years - outstanding both in their innovative work to promote health and in their deep integration of physical and spiritual healing.
Dr. Dan Fountain, American Baptist missionary in the Democratic Republic of Congo for 35 years, dedicated himself to developing "intercultural healthcare."
This approach promotes the health of persons and communities by restoring health and wholeness to persons and communities, training and empowering healthcare personnel on all levels and making effective health care available to all - geographically, economically and culturally.
With the Congolese church and medical leaders, he helped build a comprehensive sustainable African Christian health service.
Through his model of improving health and wholeness to communities, Fountain laid the groundwork for both long- and short-term medical work for years to come.
Today, American Baptist International Ministries short-term medical ministry continues to focus on the vision of Fountain and the others who went before him through supporting missionary and partner organizations around the world.
Missionaries and volunteers walk alongside local leadership as they equip medical students, advance their facilities and educate their communities in holistic healthcare.
When asked why short-term mission teams are a valuable resource, Dr. Rick Gutierrez, medical missionary in South Africa, responded, "When done right, short-term mission teams enhance our capacity to complete the training and equipping of local people and make personal connections."
He added, "This is very humanizing and positive - the best thing that happens. 'Challenging people of faith to advance the common good' is pretty simple when we are together and they see the challenges of healthcare in Africa face-to-face."
Global opportunities to serve with IM in the medical mission field are currently located in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. Four are highlighted here, but many more are offered on the International Ministries website.
AMOS Health and Hope in Nicaragua has a rich heritage of servant leadership in the rural communities beginning with Dr. Gustavo Parajón and continuing today in the work of American Baptist missionaries, Drs. Laura and David Parajón, and the AMOS team.
Their vision for empowerment in the communities focuses on local leadership development, teaching local people primary health care services, and education and preventative care.
Through AMOS, opportunities include internships, global health practicums and team experiences. Laura Parajón was named one of the three 2015 Rural Heroes by the World Organization of Family Doctors.
The Cap Haitian Eye Clinic in Cap Haitian, North Haiti, is one of the short-term medical mission locations in Haiti.
A ministry of the Haitian Baptist Convention and supported by American Baptist missionaries Mabudiga Nzunga and Kihomi Ngwemi, this clinic addresses issues of cataract surgery, glaucoma, poor eyesight and blindness.
Patients are treated at the clinic regardless of their economic situation, but the ministry of the eye clinic reaches beyond sight. Discipleship ministry is the unspoken goal of the clinic.
Patients receive kind, quality care and go and tell others. Ophthalmologists are invited to come provide training, treat patients and be part of this discipleship ministry in Haiti.
The School of Nursing at the Satribari Christian Hospital in Assam, Northeast India, has invited nursing instructors and professors to teach and mentor students in the general nurse and midwife program as well as assist in training at the hospital.
Begun with a vision from the Women's Council of the Assam Baptist Convention in 1915 and with the assistance of American Baptist missionary medical personnel, this hospital is now fully staffed and administrated by talented and dedicated local providers.
Volunteer nurses and other medical professionals work alongside hospital and nursing school personnel to enhance current programs and develop new ones.
The Evangelical Free Baptist Churches of Burundi has invited medical providers to serve at the Kayanza Medical Center, which opened in the fall of 2015.
The medical center currently offers general medicine but plans on expanding services to specialize in the areas of ophthalmology, surgery and pediatrics.
Experienced nurses and specialists are needed to train and mentor the local staff as well as treat patients.
The invitation has been extended by missionaries and Baptist partners to join in God's work around the world, equipping leaders in providing health and wholeness to their communities through the love of Jesus Christ. What will your answer be?
Angela Sudermann is the coordinator for volunteers in global mission for American Baptist Churches, International Ministries. She lives in Greenville, South Carolina, and feeds her passion for Jesus and the beloved community as a member of Pelham Road Baptist Church, servant leader with The Anchorage and a volunteer with Our Eyes Were Opened.
Editor's note: This article is part of a series on missions and local churches / denominational organizations.
Previous articles in the series are:
Sharing the Gospel, Saving Lives in West African Nation
CBF of Georgia Connects Youth to Mission Projects
How Your Church Can Break the Fortress Mentality
Sustaining Ministries Through Indigenous Missionary Support
Cooks on a Mission Shares Love of Christ Through Food
Missouri Baptist Church Meets Medical Needs in Guatemala
Teaching Missions to Kids in Our Self-Centered Culture